Review: Jack and the Beanstalk by Dronfield Musical Theatre Group

A budding Darcey Bussell of a Dame who is tutu funny for words, cookery chaos and the children’s dancing - these are a few of my favourite things in this year’s panto in Dronfield.

Jack and the Beanstalk is another cracker of a show from a group who have been creating seasonal spectaculars for more than 40 years.

Lindsay Ashmore as Fairy Greenbean; Rachel Bricklebank as Alice; Ellie Ashmore as Jack and Rachel Coop-Bassett as Simple Simon in Jack and the Beanstalk in Dronfield

Lindsay Ashmore as Fairy Greenbean; Rachel Bricklebank as Alice; Ellie Ashmore as Jack and Rachel Coop-Bassett as Simple Simon in Jack and the Beanstalk in Dronfield

This is the fifth version of the well-loved fairy story which the company formerly known as Dronfield Light Opera Group have produced but the first under their new moniker, Dronfield Musical Theatre Group.

All the stock favourites are there - the ultraviolet scene, the ghost sketch, the lobbing of sweets wrapped up in cotton wool to avoid any mishaps and a good old-fashioned sing-song.

Freshening up traditional fare, Keith Lemon’s face is briefly sighted in a Through The Keyhole sketch, David Dickinson’s Bargain Hunt makes a fleeting appearance and it wouldn’t be panto without a reference to X-Factor.

Musical numbers span the generations with something for everyone, a particular favourite being Oh Cecilia which appeals to young fans of The Vamps and those old enough to remember Simon and Garfunkel’s original.

Hero Jack is played in fine thigh-slapping style by Ellie Ashmore who leads the rescue party into the giant’s lair at the top of the beanstalk, but not before sharing a tender duet, Once You Lose Your Heart, with Rachel Bricklebank who plays sweetheart Alice.

The lowering of the lights and the giant’s booming voice triggered tearful outbursts from a couple of tots yesterday afternoon (Sunday, January 18). But the ogre really isn’t that scary in the flesh, just a normal-sized fellow with a large head.

There’s plenty of light relief to banish any tears or fears, not least Mollie the comical cow or the larger-than-life hen who lays golden eggs.

Gavin Ward strikes comedy gold in his portrayal of Dame Dandelion, from being hoofed across the stage by mischievous Mollie to becoming a hoofer in a brilliant send-up of the Danse des Petits Cygnes from Swan Lake. Plenty of laughs are cooked up in the kitchen by the Dame, his sous chef Simple Simon (played by Rachel Coper-Bassett) and some perky sausages.

And there’s bags of humour from Richard Gilson and Julie Ballin as the hapless broker’s men.

Lindsay Ashmore as the fairy and Janice O’Donovan as the witch represent the forces of good and evil but it’s the large ensemble of dancing children which create much of the magic.

Directed and choreographed by Andrea Powell, Jack and the Beanstalk continues its run at Dronfield Civic Hall from Thursday, January 22, until Saturday, January 24.

GAY BOLTON